When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being ... Read allWhen Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
Australian writer/director Leigh Whannell is famous as the writer behind the "Saw" and "Insidious" franchises. So he knows a thing or two about crafting horror movies. And in this Blumhouse production, after a clever attention-grabbing opening, he really takes his time in building an understanding of Cecilia's mental state. When things start to happen, they happen so stealthily that I needed to hit the rewind button a couple of times (no cinema experience for this one I'm afraid). Cinematographer Stefan Duscio keeps slowly panning away from Cecilia across the room to show empty corridors before slowly panning back again. It's superbly effective and was comprehensively creeping me out!
When the set action pieces do occur then they are satisfactorily exciting, albeit wildly implausible. I did not see some of the "Surprises" coming, making them jolt-worthy. And the denouement really delivered for me, reminiscent of Hitchcock's style.
Now most famous for "Mad Men" and "The Handmaids Tale" on TV, Elisabeth Moss has delivered a range of impressive film performances including in "High Rise" and - as most closely related to this role - in "Girl, Interrupted" as mental patient Lisa. It's a star turn, no doubt about it.
This movie was intended by Universal to be part of the "Dark Universe" series. But the Tom Cruise flop "The Mummy" unfortunately put paid to that. Which is a great shame. If they'd started with this one, then they might have had a hit on their hands. With a post-credits "monkey" (there isn't one in this movie by the way) they could have lined up into the follow-up movie and started the ball rolling.
It's a rollicking action flick that had my attention throughout. This is all helped along by a very effective soundtrack by British composer Benjamin Wallfisch, using strange atonal electronica to heighten the suspense.
However, the initial question it poses - haunting, 'all in the mind' or something else - gets clarified a little too early for me (and - note - is spoiled by the trailer), so the movie falls short of being a classic for that reason.
There's one aspect of the movie that really irritated me. And that is that there was no credit whatsoever for the idea of H.G. Wells that originated this story. There's a discussion of that here: since Wells died in 1946, his copyright will have expired on his works 70 years later. This is definitely NOT a retelling of his story, but in reusing the novel's title it would seem at least 'polite' to include a "Based on an idea by H.G. Wells" in the credits somewhere.
All in all, this is still a bit of a B-movie, but its a bloody good one! Utterly preposterous at times, and with decision-making that would feel at home within the Trump presidency, it's an entertaining rollercoaster of a movie. Definitely comes with a "recommended" from me and I'll look forward to a re-watch at some point.
For the full graphical review, please check out "bob the movie man" on the web - thanks).
- Jan 9, 2021